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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 5 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

A Time to Dance cover art

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman; narrated by Padma Venkatraman
Listening Library
Release date: 09-03-19
ISBN: 978-0593153482

Veda is at the top of her game as a classical dancer in India.  Then, on a bus to a championship dance show a terrible accident leaves her with a partial leg amputation, crushing her dance prodigy dreams.  Unable to give in to losing her life’s love, Veda finds a dance teacher willing to take her on, but she must start at the beginning, learning to dance all over again with her new prosthetic leg.  At her new dance school she meets Govinda, a boy who also has a love for dance, one that is deeply spiritual.  As she is relearning the movements of her body, with the help of Govinda, she connects much more fully to the meaning behind the dances and herself.

A Time to Dance is an inspiring story of a girl’s struggle to recapture her life’s passion after what  seems like an insurmountable setback.  A beautifully lyrical story, this novel in verse lends itself perfectly to the audiobook format.  Venkatraman’s voice practically sings the words with lovely soft inflection carrying the emotion of the story.  She also successfully navigates multiple characters with both Indian and U.S. accents. 

A Time to Dance has a lyrical format similar to books in verse like Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle, Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes, and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Also a great read for someone who enjoys inspiring tales of recovery like The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.  Readers who enjoyed reading Indian characters in You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins or My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma will be happy to meet Veda in A Time to Dance.

–Cathy Outten

All your Twisted Secrets cover art

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban Narrated by : Kate Rudd
HarperAudio
Publication Date: March 17,2020
ISBN: 978-0062908216

Six teens are competing for a scholarship. They each receive an invitation to a scholarship dinner, but they soon find out they are to be the selectors rather than the selected. Someone has locked them in a restaurant basement with a bomb, a syringe full of poison, and a note. The note informs them that they must select one of their group to die or everyone will die.

 All Your Twisted Secrets is The Breakfast Club combined with a suspenseful horror story.  The characters are your typical high school stereotypes: the Queen Bee, the Valedictorian, the Star Athlete, the Loner, the Stoner, and the Music Geek.  Kate Rudd does a fantastic job with the narration, moving seamlessly between characters while giving each character a distinct voice. She rivets the listener by skillfully conveying the angst and desperation of each character as the timer on the bomb ticks down. The ending is a jaw-dropper. 

Teens who enjoyed One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus or Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard will be drawn in quickly, riveted by both the story and the skillful narration.

Beth Slade

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz; narrated by Emily Bauer
Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
ISBN: 978-1250303707

A seventeen-year-old girl – known to the listener only as “Jane” – has endured the unthinkable. Having been abducted and held captive for seven months by a kidnapper with unknown motives, Jane struggles to make sense of her harrowing experience now that she has escaped. She recounts her time in a tiny locked room, receiving food and toiletries through a cat door and desperately scratching hatch marks on walls and bedposts to track her days…

The only human contact during Jane’s confinement? Mason, another abducted teen who offers comfort and a pact to escape together. But as Jane revisits her time in captivity, she must confront uncomfortable questions without easy answers. Why was she taken? Where are Mason and the other kidnapped teens? And will she ever fully recover? 

Jane’s first person confessional account alternates between Then and Now chapters, flashing back to her imprisonment and revealing her exhausting struggle to readjust to a life that no longer feels like hers. Emily Bauer’s narration deftly conveys Jane’s raw emotions both during and after her abduction, pulling the listener in to share in Jane’s pain and confusion. All in all, the suspense of Jane’s confinement coupled with the authenticity of her panic attack and PTSD-riddled attempts at healing make this a difficult title to step away from.   

This novel’s psychological suspense will appeal to teens who enjoy thrillers like April Henry’s Girl, Stolen, TV shows such as Criminal Minds, and true crime documentaries like Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight.   

–Allison Riendeau

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